Rates of knee and hip replacements are rising as younger adults seek a long-term solution to debilitating joint pain. A healthy lifestyle can help ensure the new joint functions smoothly for a long time.
In a study presented at the 2014 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons conference, researchers reported that an estimated seven million Americans — or two out of every 100 — now enjoy greater mobility thanks to artificial knees and hips. And more than 600,000 knee replacement and 400,000 hip replacement surgeries are performed in the United States each year.
In the past, joint replacement was usually reserved for older patients. Now, almost half of hip replacements are in patients younger than age 65, though they are still more common in patients older than age 50. Thanks to advances in materials and designs more tailored to an individual patient's anatomy and natural movements, modern artificial joints are lasting longer than ever.
Want to maximize the longevity of a new joint? MultiCare Deaconess Hospital recommends following a few simple steps:
Exercise, but don't overdo it. After joint replacement, physical activity can help reduce joint stiffness, improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles that support the joint. To prevent damage to the new joint, you may be advised to swap high-impact sports, such as running or tennis, for low-impact activities, such as swimming or stationary biking. Speak with a Deaconess surgeon or physical therapist about developing an individualized exercise program.
Maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds place added stress and strain on natural and artificial joints alike, wearing them out faster. The good news? Joint replacement may make it easier to lose weight. In a study recently published in the journal Orthopedics, a significant proportion of knee and hip replacement patients lost five percent or more of their pre-surgery body weight after surgery, possibly because they were able to lead a healthier, more active lifestyle.
Enjoy a healthy diet. Eating the right foods can help you get in the best shape possible prior to surgery, promote healing after surgery and lead to good overall health long-term. For example, consuming foods rich in calcium, iron and vitamin C immediately before joint replacement can help build new bone and replace red blood cells after the procedure. Your physician may recommend other nutrients or supplements to aid healing and minimize scarring, or advise against certain foods (such as those containing vitamin K) that can interfere with the healing process. Once you are back on your feet, the best diet is one that helps you control your weight, promotes good bone health and provides balanced nutrition. You should discuss any dietary concerns with a health care professional.